Philippines detects Brazil, local COVID-19 variants as cases surge

New coronavirus variant found in traveler from Philippines: Japan

Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, member of the DOH technical advisory group, explained in an online media briefing that after the Philippine Genome Center detected 85 cases "with unique set of mutations", they submitted the information to the global reporting system Phylogenetic Assignment of Named Global Outbreak Lineages (PANGOLIN).

"Additional information about the case is now being investigated", the DOH said in a statement.

The DOH said the case involved a returning overseas Filipino (ROF) from Brazil.

"The same precautions that have helped us drive down case counts in the past can also protect us from the variants, as long as we are diligent". Ong-Lim clarified, however, that this is not the same as the Brazilian variant that has been found to be more transmissible.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases is calling for stronger border control measures as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus and it is keeping an eye on whether the Philippine variant is spreading in Japan.

The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Saturday, March 13, the detection of the first case of P.1 or the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus in the country.

Sixteen of the local cases were from the Cordillera Administrative Region, 10 were from the National Capital Region, two were from Central Luzon, and two were from Calabarzon, the DOH said.

That brings the total number identified in Britain to ten, PHE said, adding that they all had links to direct travel from Brazil or to a previously confirmed case that had travelled to Brazil. This brings the total number of United Kingdom variant cases to 177, while the country now has 90 cases of the South Africa variant.

"If we let down our guard, these variant strains will make us pay", said Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health - Seattle & King County, in a statement.